Tag Archive for eve

Lady in Black

’03 Honda Shadow
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Here she is, the lady who’s already drawn a few envious stares from folks around the neighborhood.

I’m still surprised she’s as clean as she is for being six years old, especially since the folks at the bike shop referred to the previous owner as a kid. There’s a tiny chip in the paint on the tank and a scuff on the top exhaust pipe, but other than that, she’s spotless. I’ll be trying to get those touched up before long.

I already have a few ride invitations, too. A co-worker has an ’03 Shadow 750 ACE, and we plan to ride down to Peoria’s Burger Barge in the coming weeks. Another friend has an ’07 Shadow, and he told me about a couple of groups he rides with. I’m sure this bike will be much more comfortable on longer runs and able to keep up with a group, so it may be time to give that a shot.

Eve, meanwhile, has been doing her own flirting from the front yard. A few have stopped to check her out, and there’s been an offer of a trade, but nobody’s decided to snap her up yet. The surprising thing is my insurance rates actually go down with a second bike instead of up, so I won’t be heartbroken if I have to hang on to her a bit longer.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

It's Like I Shot My Dog

I just posted Eve on Craigslist. I did consider hanging on to her, but I really have no use for two bikes so there’s no sense keeping her in the garage when I should be picking up the Shadow within the next couple days.

People often ask me why I gave her a name. They say there is magic in naming things, but in this case it’s a bit simpler than that: I did it for safety. Giving the bike a name gives her a personality. Thinking of her in that context, I’m going to take better care of her, and thus will drive a bit safer so I don’t wreck her. Not wrecking her means I don’t wreck myself. See? Simple.

It works the same way with animals. If most people see a random dog wandering the street, they remain nervous or scared. If they later find out it’s the neighbor’s dog Fido, it becomes a different story. People will kill mice and rats in their house, but if it’s their pet rat Richie, he’s a cute little member of the family. If Shamu wasn’t Shamu, he’d be just another killer whale. Get it?

We don’t just name these things, we anthropomorphize them. The real power is in the personality, not in the noun. We make objects and animals more human, more like us. As a result, we develop attachments.

I know damn well Eve’s not a human being, but she’s got a personality now. As dumb as it sounds, I felt a little bummed as I took her pictures for the ad. Sure, I’ll take the cash and hand over her keys, but I don’t have to like it!

And that, my friends, is the downside to anthropomorphization.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

"You're Gonna Need a Bigger Bike"

One of my co-workers has a Honda Shadow that I’ve envied for a while. Its 750cc engine is three times the size of my bike’s engine, and it outweighs my bike by about 150 pounds. I asked him how different it felt from my bike. He promptly handed me the keys, so I took her for a test drive.

Boy was that a mistake. Because it was terrifying? Nah. It’s because now I want a bigger bike.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my bike. However, strong winds blow me around more than I’d like, and the narrow tank leads to sore hips and inner thighs on extended rides. My bike’s comfortable up to about 40-45 miles per hour, but I hit 55 and she starts to feel a little shaky. It’s not so much a feeling like I’m going to fall over, it’s more like Scotty’s in the tank screaming “I cannae hold her together, Captain!” and the not-so-warp drive is going to fly apart.

The Shadow was a whole new experience. I felt like I was sitting on something of substance, and the wider tank and higher seat made for a comfortable fit. There was no choke to play with on startup, and her throaty growl had a very different voice from my Virago. I had to lean her a little harder to keep the tighter turns, but she felt a lot steadier despite the heavier weight. I didn’t get her much over 40mph, but when I did I hardly noticed it. (I probably should have taken her out on a back road and opened her up, but I get real nervous driving other folks’ cars, much less their motorcycles.)

That said, the differences in the controls also surprised me. The brakes weren’t as touchy, and the foot shifter had a more tangible click between gears and across neutral. The biggest difference was in the clutch lever. On the Virago, I let it out most of the way before first gear engages and the bike starts rolling. On the Shadow, I hardly had to let up at all. There aren’t many things more embarrassing than killing an engine twice at a stop sign with two guys watching from a nearby yard. Fortunately the engine kicked in and drowned out their witty remarks as I rolled off, thus sparing my pride a bit.

All in all, I decided I definitely need to get into the 650-850cc range for my next motorcycle. It’s a lot more comfortable, and probably better suited to my frame. Now to see about selling some more books to pay for my engine lust…

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Plantation Reserve

Saturday was a good day.

The weather warmed up again, so the rugrats and I headed outside. I rolled Eve out of the garage and fired her up, then made sure all the signals, the brakes, and so on were in working order. I even conned the rugrats into sweeping up the garage for me.

I also broke out the first warm-weather smoke of the year: a Plantation Reserve my in-laws picked up for me from the Cigar Factory New Orleans. The plantation reserve is a panatela with a Connecticut Shade wrapper, so I counted on it being short and relatively mild, which would make it easy to work around and would go by fast enough that the rugrats wouldn’t get tired of being outside.

I tasted a hint of chocolate on lighting up, and the mild smoke was very pleasant. It held up well in the soft breeze, and I dropped the ash only when I tapped it off, which is rather impressive for a thin cigar (ring gauge 36). The flavor and finish were consistent to the end, and I took it well down to the ring. What a great way to start the smoking season.

I ever make it down to New Orelans, the Cigar Factory will be on my must-visit list.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Riding Responsibly

The Rugrats Ride
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

This right here is exactly why I always where a helmet.

I know people who feel helmets interfere with their vision and hearing, so they feel they’re safer without a helmet because they’ll have a better chance to avoid an accident. I also know people who think a helmet will save their life but leave them a vegetable, and they’d rather die than have that happen.

That’s fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t feel helmets should be legislated, but I’ll always wear one.

First of all, I feel it’s my responsibility to do so for my family. I think there are more cases of helmets saving lives and preventing (or at least limiting) head injuries than there are instances of riders left in comas. It’s like the seatbelt argument: sure, there are instances where seatbelts have done more harm than good, but they’re in the minority.

If I’m going to take up something like riding, I need to be as safe as possible for the sake of my family.

The second reason is a name: Ben Roethlisberger. Remember his motorcycle accident? It was a low-speed crash and probably not life-threatening. However, he wasn’t wearing a helmet, and his head went through a windshield. Welcome to the world of reconstructive surgery. I’m not a rich starting quarterback, so I doubt I’d have been able to afford all the surgery and to be arguing with insurance companies over what gets paid for and what doesn’t.

Given I’m more likely to get hit in town at low speed, I’ll stick with the helmet and protect my ugly mug as best I can.

See you on the road.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Secret Lives of Teachers

Most people don’t think of teachers as bikers, but as it happens five of us at the school district I work for ride. We’ve been talking about getting a picture since the school year started, and today we finally made it happen.

The Rocket Riders

The Rocket Riders MC

The Rocket is our school’s mascot, so we thought it would be fitting to take the picture in front of it. We have three of the major bike manufacturers covered: Yamaha, Honda, and Harley. Honda dominates with a Rebel (Jessica forgot to ride it in so it’s not pictured) and two Shadows.

My 250cc Virago felt a little wimpy next to these guys, but it’s cool. It’s a fun picture, and it may even show up in the yearbook.

Now you know who the principal calls when he needs to lay down extra discipline in the halls.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Hell Week Winds Down

You know it’s been a long week when you’re looking forward to going back to work and settling back in to a normal routine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a good week. It’s always good to see Brian, Coop and Mikey and spend a few days with good food, good beer, and good cigars. I returned just in time to get the Wife up to see her family for the Joliet NASCAR weekend, then went back home yesterday for board breaking day in karate class. Then it was back up to the in-laws’ place to visit with family some more.

The Hell Week tag comes from all the travel between those events. Four flights and several hours of driving on both ends adds up fast, and this morning I’m dragging ass bigtime. The beer and restaurant food, combined with a failure to shoehorn workouts into the travel mix, resulted in a gain on the scale. Finally, I even had to abandon plans to visit Peoria’s annual hot air balloon festival, partly due to weather and partly due to my own exhaustion.

At this point, working will be easier than vacation, even if I do have to shuffle computers around classrooms this week. I look forward to jumping back on the motorcycle tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to karate workouts and resurrecting the running routine.

The good news is I did fit some writing-related work into the travel. I intended to work up some materials for The Shattered Man (a working title) for a publisher, but I couldn’t get Powerless out of my head so I rolled with it. On one flight I finished outlining the main thrust of the story, and on the following flight I was able to flesh out the secondary characters and their subplots. Sure, I nodded off in mid-jot several times, but in review the notes were solid and I’m very happy with them. I’m also energized after spending time with the guys, even though we probably spent less than 10 minutes discussing writing.

I had a great time, and I can’t complain about my writing progress. In the meantime, I’m really looking forward to getting some sleep tonight.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

I'm Riding the Lightning Now!

I spun the motorcycle up to 40 miles an hour today. Yeah, I’m flying now! I best be careful before I break the sound barrier and piss off the neighbors.

Okay, in all seriousness, I’m finally putting in some real seat time after several weeks of storms, rain, trips, and projects, and my comfort level is growing fast. In fact, today I felt more eager than nervous when I fired her up, and that 40mph jaunt, though brief, was not as terrifying as I anticipated.

That’s right, I said terrifying. It’s tough to shake the idea that I’m straddling an engine and someone stole a couple of my wheels. Granted a Virago‘s engine is about as small as they come, but sitting on top of even 21 horses is a very different feeling from strapping into a cozy chair with a sturdy firewall and floor separating me from the engine and all the spinny bits. It’s also a lot of fun, but like my father-in-law told me, you’ve got to respect it or it’ll turn on you.

Because tempting fate by pushing new heights of speed wasn’t enough, I took her out into some heavier traffic today, too. This was another exercise in channeling fear as I made sure I had plenty of time to get moving. My bike will still accelerate better than a lot of cars, but I also have to keep in mind my shifting ability (or lack thereof). Missing a the gear with a semi bearing down on me wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?

Then came the hat trick: I also marked the farthest distance ridden yet. Okay, so it was only a mile from home, but I’ve zipped around quite a bit within that range. It’s all about seat time for the moment, and my comfort level grows with every turn. Just like when I’m learning a new kata in karate class, I’m building up my proprioception, or muscle memory. Pretty soon shifts and turns will be automatic, just as they are in a car.

That mile distance took me to the local gas station. The tank was looking a bit empty, so I decided it was about time I topped her off. I didn’t look at the pump meter until she was full. The total?

$3.95!

I rounded her to four bucks even, just shy of a gallon of gas. If the previous owner had reset the tachometer with the last fill-up, I’ll easily see 50 miles per gallon out of this bike, probably more.

I can definitely get comfortable with numbers like that.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Born To Be Wild

The family sat out on the porch yesterday, and we left the garage door open. The Squirt disappeared, and a few minutes later the Midget came and told me his brother was on my motorcycle. I went to check it out, thinking he’d just strayed a little too close or was fiddling with the grips or my helmet. As I reached the end of the porch, I heard a little voice saying “Vroom, vroom!”

I turned the corner and found this:

Vroom vroom!

He knows he’s not supposed to be on there, but I held off on tearing into him because I didn’t want him to try to jump off and have the bike fall on top of him. He also looked very excited to be sitting on it, and I didn’t want to break his little heart. Instead I lifted him off the bike and reminded him that he’s not to go near it when Daddy’s not around, and that he could get hurt.

It’s amazing how different the two boys are. The Midget knows to steer clear, and he does. I tell them they could get hurt, and he takes it to heart. The Squirt, meanwhile, is fearless. If you tell him not to climb a ladder because he could fall off and split his head open, he’ll be on the roof the moment you turn your back.

I half wonder if the temptation to climb the motorcycle overwhelms the fear. In the risk/reward balance system in his head, perhaps dim memories of his last experience on a bike tilts things to the reward side:

Born To Be Wild

The Squird is about 10 months old in that pic. When the Wife’s cousin Jarrod fired up his noisy Harley, the Midget ran for the van but the Squirt squealed with delight. We handed him over to Jarrod and his little face just lit up as he sat on the tank.

Do these memories really carry over? Or is it just some primal urge in the Squirt that says “bikes + noise = bad ass!“?

I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both. Either way, it’s obvious the Squirt’s going to be handful when he outgrows the moniker.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Just Like Riding a Bike

Daddy’s Little Biker Girl
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Okay, maybe not quite that easy, but what little I do know about riding a motorcycle did come back to me.

The sun finally showed its shiny face this afternoon, so after a sausage and a burger off the grill I felt the urge to take Eve for a spin. I sat down and went over the controls one more time as I let her warm up, then spent a few more minutes getting a feel for the clutch, rolling off in first gear, and finding neutral.

The Wife watched me roll to the end of the driveway and back up in neutral several times, then asked “Are you actually going to go anywhere? Just take off, already!”

Yeah, time to suck it up. I put on the helmet and riding gloves, checked for traffic, and rolled off. I hit second and rode down to the end of the street, then turned around. A familiar-looking red van came in off the T intersection and followed me back to my house. I pulled over to let them pass, only to find it was one of my poker buddies as he stopped next to me.

“You’re going to kill yourself, Mike!”

Thanks for the support, Pat! We chatted a few minutes, and I assured him I’d be alive to take his money at the next poker game. After he took off, I did a few more circuits up and down the street and around the corner.

I twitched the throttle once, but other than that I did fine. I cornered without having to think about it, and I felt comfortable hitting 25mph. I didn’t stray far, but I only had a few minutes to kill and I just wanted to get a feel for the bike anyway.

I’d say I accomplished that much. As my father-in-law reminded me, if I respect the bike I’ll do just fine. If the weather holds up I’ll do some more zipping around this weekend.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.